Saturday, January 13, 2007

The Strange Case of the Grateful Red

Bill Walton has a podcast. I've always enjoyed listening to Walton's over-the-top posturings on NBA broadcasts, so when I saw this new entertainment option on espn.com, I thought I'd give it a shot. Unfortunately, the podcast was a bit too over the top for me (I guess I prefer Walton held in check by constraints such as having to comment on a game or having to share the mic with others--this medium gives him a little bit too much freedom).

Bill Walton is undoubtedly a weird guy, but I don't think people realize how weird he actually is. I can't think of anyone else whose ideological influences are so contrary. I heard Walton give a radio interview a couple years ago (the term interview is used loosely, as there was a lot more "A" than "Q") in which he couldn't stop gushing about the importance of John Wooden in his life. He actually proceeded to recite John Wooden's pyramid of success. Wooden, of course, is the archetype of the American coach--stern, authoritarian, and no-nonsense. The guy actually lobbied to make slam dunking illegal when he had Lew Alcinder.

Walton boasts of a close relationship with Wooden to this day. Meanwhile, he used to boast about his friendship with Jerry Garcia. I think I read that he claimed to have attended more Grateful Dead concerts than played in NBA games. If the Grateful Dead were a basketball team, it would be really interesting to see how they would match up with Wooden's Bruins. By halftime, The Dead basketball team would probably have dispensed with trying to score points and would be seeing how creative they could get with their passing and dribbling. Their defense would be non-existent.

The odd thing is that Walton seems completely comfortable and at home living amongst two paradigms. You've got the ultimate template of discipline versus the ultimate template for freedom, and somehow Walton manages to espouse them both equally.

Yet Walton's weirdness doesn't stop there. He actually manages to find the nexus between Wooden and Garcia--and then makes himself the antithesis of them both! The one thing Wooden and the Grateful Dead had in common was a rejection of artifice. To be sure, they had different ideas of the authentic, but they were both purists in their own way. Wooden rejected any attempt by an individual to draw attention to himself in a team sport. His teams were truly teams. Likewise, the Grateful Dead were a rock 'n' roll democracy; they might have had some rough spots between members over the years, but as far as rock bands went, they were remarkably functional as a unit. On-stage, the Dead were as co-operative as any of the Bruins championship squads. Wooden and the Dead were both about substance over style. Even if it had been a common practice back in Wooden's days, his teams would have never turned out the lights to introduce the starters. The game was the spectacle, and nothing would distract from it. Likewise, the Grateful Dead never were known for elaborate stage shows that distract from the music.

In Walton's post-playing career, he has carved a niche for himself as the NBA broadcaster most likely to offend or outrage. He is not above hyperbole ("That was the worst pass in the history of Western Civilization"). The very podcast I referenced in the first paragraph is evidence of his willingness to adopt a persona of artifice in order to entertain. For a guy who trumpets his vegetarianism, he sure is full of a lot of bull.

15 Comments:

Blogger Heidi said...

aren't you glad that zombies DON'T exist? i think i thank god AT LEAST twice a month for that fact.

and what's up with the band name "Grateful Dead" why are they grateful? that people actually like there noise that is defined as music?

12:01 PM  
Blogger Enjoy_Every_Sandwich said...

I like the Grateful Dead.

How do you know zombies don't exist Heidi? There could be one outside your house right...now...

7:07 PM  
Blogger Heidi said...

don't do that!!!

9:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I liked the blog,
Could you please sign me up to recieve the blogs on my email? My name miss. Cook
email address is KCOOK002@jcc.kctcs.edu
thanks you have a Blessed day!

12:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

sorry its me again miss. cook my email is
KCOOK0029@jcc.kctcs.edu
thanks again

12:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would like you to add me to your emailing list. I'm in Mrs. Kelley class. My email address is brittany_vessels@yahoo.com.

7:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i thought this blog was neat to read.. i think that we all have a little bit of "weird" in us!.. can you add me to your mailing list? im in Mrs. Kelley's class. My email is akbabya@hotmail.com
thanks!

9:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i just commented ( im akbabya@hotmail) could you also add aarmstrong0017@jcc.kctcs.edu to your mailing list?

9:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Heidi I'm glad zombies don't exist to. I thought the blog was very interesting, but not something I would want to read again.

6:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I liked the blog will you sign me up to have the blogs on my e-mail at HSilvers0001@kctcs.edu. Thanks..Heather Silvers

3:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The article was very interesting, but not something I want to read again. I would like you to sign me up. My email address is awalls0009@JCC.kctcs.edu

8:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hello i am aslo from becky kellys english class... could you possibaly add me to your mailing list...my email is bstallings0009@kctcs.edu
thanks agian

8:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would like for you to add me to the e-mailing list, please. I am in Mrs. Kelley's class. My e-mail address is hmullins0012@kctcs.edu.

12:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, wats up?! I was wondering if you could add me to your emailing list. I'm in Mrs. Kelley class. My email address is phbjoi@msn.com Thanx a bunch!

6:12 PM  
Blogger Azor said...

Thanks to everyone who asked to sign up--even if you didn't have much of a choice :-).

I've got a bit of a welcome message on the post below.

7:00 PM  

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